F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali denies he is ‘selling the soul’ of the sport amid controversial calendar changes

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali denies he is ‘selling the soul’ of the sport amid controversial calendar changes

The world famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium has hosted F1 since 1983 (Photo: Getty)

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has denied that he is ‘selling the soul’ of the sport amid controversial changes to the racing calendar.

While the calendar for 2023 is yet to be revealed, several historic and popular grand prix and circuits are unlikely to make the cut with their places taken by newer races in divisive locations.

At the time of writing, 20 circuits are currently contracted to host a race next year and F1 bosses have previously stated that there can only be a maximum of 24 races in a single season due to logistical constraints.

And with the return of the South African Grand Prix in the pipeline, it is very likely that at least two of Austria, Belgium, France, Mexico, or Monaco will no longer host F1 in the future.

Many drivers have already expressed their discontent with losing the German Grand Prix, a former mainstay on the calendar, and speculation that Belgium and Monaco are the most likely candidates to be discontinued has riled long-time fans, who claim that F1 bosses are just following the money and do not care for the sport’s heritage.

These accusations have been refuted by Domencali, who told Sport Bild: ‘Money is important everywhere, for us too.

‘But we don’t just look at that, the whole package has to be right. If we only looked at the bank account, the racing calendar would definitely look different.

Provisional 2023 F1 Calendar:

Abu Dhabi

Australia

Azerbaijan

Bahrain

Brazil

Canada

China

Great Britain

Hungary

Imola

Italy

Japan

Las Vegas

Miami

Netherlands

Qatar

Saudi Arabia

Singapore

Spain

USA

‘I’m not selling the soul of Formula 1. This is the normal change. We are opening up to the whole world.’

While F1 has always sought to explore new locations there has been increasing concern over the last few years around the countries F1 has agreed to race in, especially in regard to Saudi Arabia and Qatar on account of their terrible human rights records.

In addition, at the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix back in March drivers were reportedly forced to continue racing despite a missile attack on an oil depot just miles from the Jeddah circuit.

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali denies he is ‘selling the soul’ of the sport amid controversial calendar changes

The aftermath of a missile attack could very clearly be seen from the Jeddah track in Saudi Arabia during the F1 weekend in 2022 (Photo: Getty)

But Domencali has remained defiant in his decision to greenlight more races in the Middle East, adding: ‘We are providing the spotlight in which the hosts want to present themselves well.

‘There are already first successes. In Saudi Arabia, women have been allowed to drive for four years.’

There is also annoyance from fans outside America, who find it grossly unfair that the USA will host three races from next year onward in Austin, Miami, and Las Vegas, while several European countries cannot have one.

Furthermore, there is fear that an increasing number of street circuits being added to the calendar will hurt the quality of racing and see the loss of more traditional and great tracks like Spa in Belgium, with eight of the 20 contracted races for 2023 now set to take place on street circuits.

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